A political storm is brewing in a Birmingham district where UKIP is hoping to set the scene for a breakthrough.
The anti-EU party sees the up and coming Kingstanding by-election as a good test run for the local and European Parliament elections in May and has put forward candidate Roger Tempest.
The Kingstanding by-election, which also includes a candidate from the far-right National Front, is to take place on Thursday, February 13, after the sudden resignation of Labour councillor Catherine Grundy.
The potential impact of UKIP – whether a strong showing in polls nationally can translate into local success in Birmingham – is the unknown factor in this by-election which otherwise is a straight battle between Labour candidate Lorraine Owen and Tory Gary Sambrook. UKIP have previously failed to make an impact in Birmingham but are putting in full campaign resources for this contest.
Retired teacher and saxophonist Roger Tempest said: “I am totally disillusioned with the Coalition Government and the Labour Party.
“Sadly, we are run by Oxbridge politicians interested only in getting elected by grabbing the middle ground – you cannot put a cigarette paper between them. The only sensible option is to vote UKIP.”
Labour which has held the seat for a generation is the favourite and is defending Catherine Grundy’s 405-vote majority in 2012. Local Gary Sambrook is standing in Kingstanding for the fifth time, but came closest to unseating Labour in 2008 when the Tories were at the peak of their popularity in Birmingham. He lost by 80 votes. The British National Party, which has previously performed well in Kingstanding, is not putting up a candidate this time, although the far right is represented on the ballot paper by Terry Williams.
The full list: Graham Lippiatt of Worcester Lane Sutton Coldfield (Lib Dem), Lorraine Owen of Goldstar Way, Lea Hall (Labour), Gary Sambrook of Plumstead Road, Kingstanding (Conservative), Roger Tempest of Halfway Close, Great Barr (UKIP) and Terry Williams, of Yockleton Road, Lea Hall (National Front).